Koog P. Hong, «Abraham, Genesis 20–22, and the Northern Elohist», Vol. 94 (2013) 321-339
This article addresses the provenance of the Elohistic Abraham section (Genesis 20–22) in order to clarify the divergence between the source and tradition-historical models in pentateuchal criticism. Examining arguments for E’s northern provenance demonstrates that none of them applies directly to E’s Abraham section. The lack of Abraham tradition in early biblical literature further undermines the source model’s assumption of Israel and Judah’s common memory of the past. The southern provenance of Genesis 20–22 is more likely, and the current combination of Abraham and Jacob traditions is probably a result of the Judeans’ revision of Israelite tradition.
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Israel 62. True, northerners might have known Abraham, but perhaps
as one ancestral figure of their southern neighborsâ€”in other words,
as their father, not necessarily as our father. After the fall of Samaria,
the northern Jacob tradition was taken up and expanded by the
Judeans. We do not know exactly how this acquisition was made 63.
We do not know whether it was available in a literary form or was
readily known through oral transmission. What we know is the fact
that somehow southerners knew of this northern tradition and adopted
it into their tradition â€” but not before decisively reformulating it.
The identity reconstruction of Judeans after the fall of Israel and
the ensuing revolutionary reception of the northern tradition laid the
foundation for definitively rewriting the new memory of Israelâ€™s past.
Now Abraham shares not only a place in Israelâ€™s ancestry as one of
the fathers but the leading position in the rudimentary triad in Israelâ€™s
pedigree: Abraham-Isaac-Jacob. I call it a revolution â€” a revolution
in Judeansâ€™ self-identity. They no longer identified themselves as
mere observers of the great Yahwistic heritage of their northern
neighbor 64. They became the new Israel, the sole heir of YHWH 65.
To be sure, a rewritten history may not have immediately af-
fected the collective memory of the past. But when this reformula-
tion of the ancestral history by the hand of southerners later formed
the foundation of the Torah, as authoritative religious literature, it
began to influence decisively those who conceived of themselves
as Abrahamâ€™s descendants. Slowly and steadily, the once indepen-
dent and competing fathers of Israel and Judah began to co-inhabit
the memory as Israelâ€™s common past 66.
Cf. YOREH, The First Book of God, 78.
For the popular notion of the influx of northern refugees, see FINKEL-
STEIN â€“ SILBERMAN, The Bible Unearthed, 243-245. For recent critique, see
N. NAÊ¼AMAN, â€œWhen and How Did Jerusalem Become a Great City? The
Rise of Jerusalem as Judahâ€™s Premier City in the Eighth-Seventh Centuries
B.C.E.â€, BASOR 347 (2007) 21-56; P. GUILLAUME, â€œJerusalem 720-705 BCE:
No Flood of Israelite Refugeesâ€, SJOT 22 (2008) 195-211.
FINKELSTEIN â€“ SILBERMAN, The Bible Unearthed, 146-150.
N. NAÊ¼AMAN, â€œThe Israelite-Judahite Struggle for the Patrimony of An-
cient Israelâ€, Bib 91 (2010) 14-23; HONG, â€œThe Deceptive Pen of Scribesâ€.
In the apocryphal literature, the attention given to Abraham (33 times)
increased almost comparably to that of Jacob (43 times), and then, in the New
Testament, Abraham occurs 69 times and Jacob 26 times. This perhaps sig-
nifies a growing reputation of Abraham as the founding ancestor of Israel.
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